There’s no doubt supply chains have evolved rapidly in recent years. Compounded by the pressures of the pandemic, companies have incorporated more and more enterprise products and services — in addition to more online monitoring and analysis of physical assets — to better meet modern customers’ expectations for speed and service. However, this evolution has also driven home the need for improved digital supply chain security management.
Digital supply chains are now more complex and interconnected than ever before. While this brings notable and necessary opportunities and efficiencies for companies it also raises the risk profile for those same companies to monitor. Organizations that have access to more data often have to transmit this data across the supply chain to vendor partners and to empowered customers who demand more visibility and transparency. Considering the many devices handling this data, software and application solutions parsing it out, and the employees putting it to use, it’s clear that the vulnerable surface presented demands better digital supply chain security.
Get our rundown of the hottest topics at each show, along with strategies for staying ahead of your competitors.
Each of those points of access — hardware, software, and human — represents a potential entry point for hackers. Phishing and ransomware, data breaches, industrial espionage and intellectual property theft are all cybercriminal activities made easier as supply chains increasingly rely on digital technology. Vendors and partners, both up and down the digital supply chain, exchange data regularly to power real-time insights, track the location of products and more. Every data transfer is a potential vulnerability — from the warehouse worker checking inventory levels to the truck driver sending a digital verification of goods delivered.
These security issues represent a looming, and still growing, threat to companies of every size in virtually every sector. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) 2021 annual report outlined just how large a threat such attacks have become. Nearly 850,000 complaints, up 7% from 2020, were reported to the FBI last year; dollar losses attributed to cybercrime increased by 64% percent in 2021 to more than $6.9 billion — or more than a third of the total from the last five years combined.
No matter the organization’s size, adding resilience to digital supply chain security should be top of mind.
Learn More with TRG: Improving non-traditional IT systems security is a concern for every industry and key to securing digital supply chains. Read more here.
Your Own Security Isn’t Enough
Digital supply chain security concerns are not limited to your own organization. As your scope of vendor partners expands and as your operations become more integrated digitally, this introduces new risks across the board.
Today, manufacturing is the second most targeted industry as hackers take aim on infrastructure with connections to operational technology (OT). Embedded scanners and tablets are now essential in wholesale, logistics, and warehouse facilities both due to the speed and efficiency they add for workers, and for their ability to access and adjust inventory-related information in real-time. But whether it’s a barcode scanner used by an individual worker in a distribution center, or an aging piece of OT, each now also represents a point of access and presents a potential target.
Hackers can parlay a vulnerability from any one of these access points to gain entry into your warehouse management system or network. Once ‘inside’ attackers can access customer information, install ransomware, hijack payment processes, stop, delay, or manipulate shipping orders, misrepresent or falsify data, and much more. These risks are present for every component of your digital supply chain.
One pervasive threat is malicious actors targeting a vulnerable supplier, then exploiting that breach to levy ransomware attacks, data theft, or acquire IP from larger companies connected through the digital supply chain. This one-target, multiple-victim approach makes supply chain ransomware attacks a well-paying industry. Larger companies will often pay up simply to free up the supply chain and avoid major business continuity issues.
It’s no longer adequate to be confident in your own security processes and protocol. A vulnerability in a third party’s system can now offer an entry point into the entire digital supply chain. Companies can’t afford to simply trust every member of their vendor network is secure or follows best practices; They need to verify it.
After years of prioritizing low costs and efficiency over security and resilience, there’s been ample empirical evidence it’s time to switch focus. The high-profile supply chain attack experienced by Colonel Pipeline, and SolarWinds before that, shined a bright light onto how digital supply chain security can be crippling when it fails.
Many organizations added additional supply chain layers during the pandemic to improve their ability to navigate potential disruptions and have back-up suppliers in place. But doing so may open up other problems if security with those suppliers isn’t verified. As companies source services, software, and equipment, scrutinizing suppliers and partners while setting minimum security standards for them should be part of the process.
Security training and safeguards are essential to get the most out of your technology investments across the supply chain.
Want More Tips on Securing Your IT Systems and Supply Chain? Watch the on-demand seminar here.
Take Steps to Improve Digital Supply Chain Security
The initial step in creating a strategy for improving digital supply chain security is to conduct a risk assessment audit. This should include a complete overview of your technology profile, where you’ll learn what is tied to your network, what devices are included in the profile, and what they’re all doing. Just as importantly, organizations should study potential supply chain partners, and assess the maturity of their risk management system. Which have vetted security solutions? Which will agree to minimum standards? Which should be excluded moving forward due to security concerns?
1) When, not if:
Here are some other steps organizations can take to improve digital supply chain security:
The interconnected nature of modern supply chains makes breaches more likely. Be prepared for the eventuality with strong response plans to contain potential damage.
2) Map it out:
Creating a landscape of the core elements of your digital and physical supply chain containing critical systems, contacts, and devices can improve response planning.
3) Who matters most?:
Identify your most important vendors and ensure everything is done to maintain strong security management.
4) Are you covered?:
Check your cyber insurance policies. See if they cover supply chain disruptions and examine them to see if they expand to cover breaches with key suppliers.
5) Set the standard:
Establish security standards for your most critical vendor relationships. Increase oversight by writing such standards into contracts.
6) Educate the workforce:
Continually remind and reinforce to employees their role in digital supply chain security. Institute strong password systems and multifactor authentication for devices and access. Monitor email phishing ploys. Mandate timely software updates for both personal and company-issued devices.
To stay competitive and secure, companies of every size need to understand the expanding supply chain digital environment and develop a strategy for management. Many businesses must manage that risk on small budgets and with limited oversight of third (and fourth) parties. While no single solution mitigates all risk, by instituting best practices, mapping connections, identifying the most critical suppliers and functions, and working with an experienced MSSP to provide solutions
companies can add more resilience to their supply chain.
Learn More from TRG: Your security operations team needs the skills and resources to monitor and respond to threats. Learn how to strengthen your enterprise security here.
TRG Delivers Security Solutions
At TRG, we’re committed to ‘Making Technology Simple” — specifically within enterprise mobility, point of sale and payment processing solutions. With the industry’s most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services, our Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) Support will help you fully optimize your enterprise mobility program across a broad range of devices and operating systems. Our Onsite Services are tailored to each customer’s requirements and are backed by our expert technicians.
At TRG, we have established a track record of success with purpose-built security solutions designed to monitor, advise, alert and respond to information security threats 24/7/365. TRG’s IT security is powered by MRK Technologies, a sister company of TRG under the TruWest Companies umbrella. MRK Technologies brings decades of experience, and the people, process and procedure to deliver unparalleled results.
Connect with TRG today to learn more about improving digital supply chain security and how we can implement solutions to protect your organization’s data and operational integrity.